18 May 2008

A way to spend a Sunday

The best music ever made will never be heard.

Tonight I found myself behind a drum set for the first time in months. In a bad rock factory like Funkadelic Studios, where the paper thin walls bleed bad metal and leaden punk, nothing is gained or lost. For the 10 million bands who slave away in these caves, you'll read 1 successful band bio who forged their sound in an hourly rehearsal studio in Manhattan.

The drums sound awesome in these rooms. A cramped room makes drums sound huge--the sound bounces off the walls and makes everyone playing sound like Dave Grohl. The PA is a piece of shit, there's one good guitar amp out of 4, the bass gets nice and loud, and you get that feeling that you're tearing shit up.

Me and the Johns from Strikes Again! were in such a place, and even on a lazy Sunday afternoon when we'd usually be home watching bowling, the leaky walls and the Stooges-noise led us into an impromptu cover gig. It's the internet, so I feel compelled to report on the results:

Set length: 30 minutes
Attendence: 0
Set list:

(1) Fugazi - Place Position. from 'End Hits'. Ridiculously tight. Especially the third time we played it.

(2) A.C. Newman - On the Table. normal speed version. A.C. Newman is the lead singer of the New Pornographers. If you like Paul McCartney and don't know who Carl Newman is, buy the entire New Pornographers discography, A.C. Newman's solo record 'The Slow Wonder', and Zumpano's 'Goin' Through Changes'. If you don't like McCartney, hug your Yoko doll and piss off.

Speaking of which - for anybody who slags McCartney, listen straight through to Grammy-winning record 'Double Fantasy' by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. If you survive and still find 'Maybe I'm Amazed' and 'Band on the Run' less palatable, call a hospital.

(2b) A.C. Newman - On the Table, slow speed version. Change the speed on some of your favorite songs and power pop becomes heavy metal. We did. (I wonder if 'Love Will Keep us Together' might make a great sludgy metal song.)

(3) Faith No More - Just a Man. People love the Abbey Road medley and the Bohemian Rhapsody, the concept within a song. Concept albums are boring, concept songs are where it's at.

The best way to describe this song is this: You've just borrowed your stepdad's car, driven your Aphrodite to a beautfiful vista overlooking a landfill. You are our protagonist. You study the night sky, and transition your sweet nothings into a stark cautionary tale about Icarus. The earth flips. Replete with gospel choir, you score.

(4) Thank You (falettin me be mice elf again, edit) Turns out it's the same riff over and over. More fun with a horn section.

(5) Guided by Voices - Unleashed! Large-Hearted Boy.
(6) Guided by Voices - "Wished I Was A Giant"

These are two of the best rock songs ever written by the band who brought us together. When you're playing with people you're truly comfortable playing with, who speak the same musical language you do, it's a warmup and an invitation, a revisiting of the musical conversations we've had as frends, as bandmates, as fans of the same music for years and years.

On one level, there's no difference between being in a jam band and being in a punk band, or a jazz band, or a sleepy Sunday afteroon cover band. We all have our experiences, and we fumbled to share them.

But then we found them: Ramones, Sonic Youth, Pixies, Sebadoh. Song after song.

It's rewarding to build a song with a band that works its ass off, rehearses every split second. Strikes Again! has written, recorded and played some amazing rock songs. But in that room, when JVA picked up the drum sticks, and we all knew 'Judy is a Punk', that's friendship.


Anonymous jva said...


3:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rock and roll with pals on Sundays with beers and Ramones sounds alright by me! AL-RIGHT! ALL-RIGHT! ALL-RIGHT!

4:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That anonymous is an imposter.

7:42 PM  
Blogger Tony Alva said...

Glad to have you back on the boards! You've missed exactly nothing...

3:54 PM  

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